Welcome to Bellz&Bunz

I guess I should start off by introducing myself, so, here I go!

I’ll keep it simple and straight forward. I promised myself when I started this blog, that i would be 100% apologetically me! I’m a no frills kind of gal with a bit of a potty mouth so pardon my french occasionally!

My name is Denise, I’m 37 and a mom of 2 boys. Jonathan who’s ( holy shit) turning 13 this year and Daniel who’s 10.  I’m married to Brad, who I will often refer to as “the hubs”. I am a full-time working mom and am currently enrolled in school part-time to become a registered nutritionist focusing on sports and nutrition.  I have been working in healthcare for the majority of my career, primarily in paediatric healthcare for the last 16 years, 10 of which I have spent as a senior manager in business operations.

I have an auto-immune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is what sparked my passion for health and fitness.  You can read my story about living with RA in my blog called “it’s been 641 days”.

My heaviest weight I’ve ever been is 242 lbs (I’m now 135lbs).  I’ve yoyo dieted probably since I was 16yrs old, until  my diagnosis with RA 2 years ago which is when I changed my way of looking at nutrition and my health overall.  I’m a gym rat! I love lifting weights, pushing myself to do things I never thought I could, because I find the feeling of accomplishment to be so fulfilling emotionally and physically.  You will notice that I have a lot of tattoo’s. I always get asked about them. My sleeve is a picture of a woman warrior, holding a sword ready for battle, with a blossomed lotus flower. In short the meaning for me is internal strength.

So why now- why the blog?  Well, here’s the thing I learned this past year that took me my entire life to understand.  I can put myself first and not feel guilty about it. Why? because I am a better person, woman, mother,wife,  friend, daughter, when I am healthy and happy.   These past (almost) 2 years, I have made my health a priority and it has changed my entire balance in love, health, family and motherhood.   Which is what has brought me here and the desire to empower and help other women with hopes to inspire them to live the best versions of themselves. Make themselves a priority and not for one minute feel guilty about it.

My promise to you is I will keep it real, share my personal stories, my successes and my failures.  I will share my m personal workouts and fitness programs that I have done or am currency doing that don’t suck ass and will get you results.

I should mention I am a wicked cook and baker, I am actually a certified professional baker which has come in handy since we have recently moved towards a more plant based diet. Checkout my recipes and give them a try. everything I make keeps into consideration, health, nutrients and of course stuff my kids love. They are also easy and quick, because lets be honest who has time to waste!

Thank you so much for  visiting my page. I truly believe a journey is a destination and I hope to walk along side you on your path!

xo

Denise


Big Change, New Direction

It’s not everyday that you wake up and decide that you are done! Done with wanting and not

getting, done with being tired, done with stress and bullshit, done with wishing and hoping, done with convincing yourself that there is no other way, done with negative people.  Just plain done! Well, thats me, right now!

I went to see an old friend, a very wise friend who has been a part of my life since I can remember. He said to me “ the longest journey is from our head to our hearts”  and it’s so true. Getting out of our own heads is so hard.  He also told me that there are 2 types of fear, negative fear and positive fear and at that time I was stuck in my own head, letting the negative fear consume me.

Life has it’s way of bringing you to cross roads. Some big and some small. I found myself at the biggest cross road- standing there knowing which was the right road to take, but too afraid. Just like he said, I kept trying to talk myself out of not taking the road I knew was right for me.

I guess as I’m writing this right now, I realize that the reason why I was so scared to make this decision that I’m about to share is because I have this constant need to have full control. I’m always on top of things, I always have my shit together, I don’t need sleep to function, I carry the stress load of everything so other people don’t have to, I bow down to people who hurt me and forgive ( way too much), I have thick skin, I ignore stress and pretend it doesn’t exist, and I open my heart too much and let too many people in, I give and love unconditionally and probably should put some rope to tighten  that shit up. I’m a “machine” as people call me.  Well this machine needed a tune up!  

As I stand in front of this cross road, I decided that what I really want, what I feel in my heart and soul is no longer being ignored and that it was non-negotiable. I decided it was time to go for it, to put everything I have, every part of me into doing what I love, into doing what makes my soul sing, my heart smile and keeps my mind at peace.  I am meant to help others, I am meant to walk alongside people through their journey, I am meant to inspire and empower other women, to encourage moms to get back on track, to motivate them that they can do it. I am meant to show women it can be done and most of all I am meant to cheer them on every step of the way. I am meant to help women through self doubt and fear, I am meant to help women become strong!

And so, as I leave my career in paediatric healthcare to pursue my passion in helping other through health, fitness and nutrition I am at peace knowing that I left a positive impact, that it goes without saying I did good there. I put 16 years of my whole heart into an organization that became part of our family and I am closing that chapter with happiness and pure fulfillment.   

I am humbled by my experiences, blessed for the people in my life that support me unconditionally without judgement and thankful to those that are cheering me on and believe in me and my purpose!  To all of you and to all my followers and supporters, I thank you with all of my heart, every inch of it.

What’s next?  I guess you will just have to wait and see 🙂

Xo

Denise

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Blueberry Protein Oatmeal

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It’s funny because it used to be my least, actually I used to skip it entirely, but that was at a time where I didn’t realize how important eating breakfast was for your metabolism, in staying healthy and fueling your body.  Since focusing on my fitness in general especially with strength training, all I can think about is what I’m going to eat for breakfast. I work out first thing in the morning on empty stomach ( in a fasted state). Meaning, as soon as I wake up, I get ready and am at the gym within 15-20 minutes. I find I have the most energy at this time and get the most out of my workouts.  With that said, by my last rep I’m dreaming about my oats!!!  LOL

I also get alot of questions regarding my protein intake since being plant-based. I’m not going to get into the plant-based protein in this post but if you are curious about it, fire me off an email and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Protein intake is important to many people, especially those who are predominately body building, strength and resistance training and i train pretty hard, I always try to pack my breakfast with a good balance of protein and essential amino acids. I don’t count my macros ( thats too complicated for me), I don’t count my calories either, I just try to make sure every meal is fully of beneficial nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, good fats and super agents, while maintaining a healthy portion.

I’m a creator of habit, I can’t help it. When I love something, I could eat it all the time and not get sick of it, granted I will make variations of it and change a few things up but the basic of it always remains my staple.

Oatmeal is my absolute favorite go to post workout breakfast ( seriously I almost eat it every day).  I’m sharing with you my favorite way to make it! I either make it with rolled oats or steel cut oats which have about  6 grams of protein per ½ cup.  I also add Pea Protein-which contains 24grams of protein per scoop ( 3tbsp), plus I add a whole bunch of my favorite power seeds and fruit  to give me a well balanced, high protein post workout meal. (26 grams of protein to be exact)

Ingredients:

½ Cup instant organic oats

1 tbsp pea protein

1 tbsp hemp seeds and flax

1 tsp ground chia

1 tbsp peanut butter

Pinch cinnamon

Boiling water

Topping:

2 tbsp coconut yogurt

¼ cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, add boiling water ( I usually add about 1 cup of water per ½ cup)  and let sit for about 2 minutes
  2. Stir in peanut butter
  3. Add toppings and serve
  4. enjoy!

Tumeric My Latte-The Golden Milk

I’m not the type of person to preach my style of anything, I don’t believe that my way is the best way for everyone. What I do enjoy, is sharing what works for me, some of my choices, some recommendations because I have valued and learned so much from others who share their stories and recommendations.  I believe that we all learn from each other. Even though what works for me, may not work for you, but the principles of what we learn and get from each other is transitional to anyone.

I love incorporating natural powerful agents into our daily nutrition, but I also need them to be enjoyable, delicious and easy to make.  

In studying and learning about natural anti-inflammatory agents, superfoods and disease fighting agents I have been incorporating more of these agents into my everyday cooking and baking. Since i am seriously addicted to Matcha Latte’s I decided to test out making Tumeric latte (aks- Golden milk). After a few hit and misses, I perfected the the best Turmeric Latte ( no, seriously, this is the best one you’ll have..promise!!)

Tumeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory super powers! It actually contains more than 2 dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including pain, swelling and inflammation enzyme inhibitors, which is why it is so highly recommended for those suffering from arthritis.  Tumeric, however is also being tested for its cancer fighting agents ( particularly in prostate & breast cancer). Recent studies have shown that Curcumin ( the active agent in Tumeric) interferes with the molecular pathways involved with cancer cell development, growth and spread. These studies have shown that curcumin  reduces the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, its spreading and that it can contribute to the death of these cancer cells!   

For best absorption of turmeric’s super powers it needs to be ‘activated’.  It is easily activated by eating it with good healthy fats ( eg. avocado, coconut, flax).  Because Turmeric is a fat soluble the good fat will nind it and allow you to absorb it. Heating Turmeric for 10 minutes or more enhances its antioxidant properties. Also eating turmeric with black pepper  ( because it contains piperine- an enzyme inhibitor) significantly increases its absorption as well I I can’t remember where I read itm but I think it’s like around 200%)

Tumeric is used widely in south asian and middle eastern cooking, but it is also used in teas.  I think we are seeing a lot more of it now than we ever did before.  One of my favorite teas is Tumeric and ginger, I used to buy the bags until a friend of mine made me a tea using fresh ginger and turmeric.  Since then I always made it on my own.

Inspired by my favorite hot beverage ( Matcha almond milk latte) I played around with turning the Tumeric tea into a latte too.  Results….AMAZING! So if you have never tried turmeric, or anything turmeric before, I highly suggest you try my latte! Not only does it taste friggin amazing, it is so very good for you. It’s like a superpower latte!

Ingredients:

3 cups unsweented almond milk ( you can use rice, soy or coconut milk as well)

2 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top

1.5 tsp freshly grated ginger ( or you can just add it whole- probably around around a 1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger-peeled)

1 tbsp raw pure honey* optional  ( if vegan- you can add pure maple syrup- note I haven’t tried it yet)

1.5 tsp coconut oil or avocado oil

Note: you can add 1tsp of fresh ground black pepper- I personally don’t like it, but you can add it for the increased health benefit as noted above)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients ( except honey) into a pot and whisk together until combined
  2. On stove top, bring to a light bowl, then lower heat to a very slow simmer, add honey and whisk/stir frequently.
  3. Let simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Strain through a strainer and serve. ( you can use a frother to make the foam)
  5. Add cinnamon on top.

Daily Core

I can’t stress enough how important it is to work out your core. Think of your core as the chain link between your upper and lower body. Your core brings balance and stability, so when you don’t have a strong core it actually effects your whole body. Majority of back aches are due to not having a strong enough core. When you have weak core muscles you over compensate by  using your back muscles.

Don’t neglect your core, you should focus on strengthening it daily. I add in core strengthening exercises into my daily workout routine.  Below, I have added some of my favorite core routines that I generally add at the end of every workout. They don’t take more then 10 minutes and can be done at home or at a gym.

Strengthen your core doesn’t mean you will get a six pack, that comes from nutrition.  You know the saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” well its true.  Developing a cut stomach/torso is 80% dependent on dialing into nutrition.  Also everyone’s core is different, what you want to focus on is strengthening your overall core muscles: front, back, sides, upper and lower.

I love using med balls and or kettle bells, so you will see that I use them quite a bit in all my core workout. If you are doing this workouts at home, you can 1) use nothing or 2) you can actually use a milk carton, a heavy book, anything that weights 3-5lbs ( to start) as you strengthen your core you can increase your weights.  Also dumbbells at Walmart are really cheap ( anywhere between $5-12, depending on weight)

These are my favorite core combinations. For now I’ll share 3 of them with you, but i will be sure to post more soon.

Daily Core 1: you will do 3 rounds of the exercises below. You will do each exercise for the set amount of reps. all 3 equals 1 round.  you are going to do 3 rounds with no break between exercises but with a 30-60 second break between each round.

  1. 25 Crunches ( laying on a mat or on a stability ball)
  2. 10 weighted full sit ups into standing position (holding med ball)
  3. 20 Russian Twist

Daily Core 2:  3 Rounds, no break between exercises, 30-60 seconds break between each round.

  1. 30 Mountain Climbers- 15 each leg ( for advanced,  use BOSU )
  2. 10  weighted full sit ups ( using med ball, or KB)
  3. 10 leg lifts
  4. 20 Bicycles (10 each side)

Daily Core 3: 3 Rounds, no break between exercises, 30-60 seconds break between each round.

  1. 20 Side Bends, holding a KB ( 10 each side)
  2. 20 Jack Knives
  3. 20 flutter kicks (10 each leg)
  4. 45 second plank

Never Miss Monday! Full Body Workout

Hello Mondays!!!   Mondays bring a new week, it’s our weekly reset button! So get up and move your body, feel great, eat healthy and smile.

Here’s one of my workout circuits, it’s full body workout while focusing on glutes ( my favorite thing to workout)

This workout is 3 rounds of different exercises, with a short  high impact cardio in between. every exercise below is done in 3 sets of 10 reps.

What you will need: a towel ( or gliders), a Kettle bell ( no necessary- can be done with body weight), a resistance band ( exercise can be modified and used without it), weighted ball (I use  40lbs)

My high impact cardio for this particular workout is the cycle bike. You can alternate this with sprints outside, on a treadmill, stair climber. anything you like but it needs to be fast as it will be done in short bursts

Warm up: 5 minute cycle

Round 1: 10 reps ( each leg) x3.  for this round you will be super setting between each exercise.  This means, you will do 10 of the 1st exercise, 10 of the 2nd exercise x3, with no rest between rounds.

  • Front glide lunges ( 10 each leg)
  • Lateral glide lunges ( 10 eag leg)

Cardio:  2 Minute on cycle bike ( fast)

Round 2: Alternating each exercise for 10 reps x 3 sets ( with 30 second break between each set of 10)

  • Weighted ball shoulder throw overs
  • Burpee

( you will do one shoulder throw over and go straight into a burpee, you will do this  for 10 reps to equal 1 set ( so 10 of each equals 1 set) take a 30 second break between each of your sets. ( Take longer if needed)

Cardio:  2 Minute on cycle bike ( fast)

Round 3: I do this round using a resistance band around my legs. placed just above my knees. You can do this without the resistance band. just make sure to keep your squat low and your knees shoulder width apart. Take your time with this make sure our form and posture is correct.  Keeping your knees bent, behind you toes and remember squat low.  You will do 10 reps, super setting each exercise for 3 sets.

  • Platypus walk ( 10 front walk, 10 back walk)
  • Goblet squat holding a kettle ( cna be done without the KB )

Cardio Finisher:  5 Minute on cycle bike